Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 621–629 | Cite as

HIV and Mother–Child Conflict: Associations with Mother’s Mental and Physical Health

  • Lisa P. ArmisteadEmail author
  • William D. Marelich
  • Marya T. Schulte
  • Marylou Gilbert
  • Debra A. Murphy


Maternal illness is a stressor that can disrupt family processes and contribute to negative child outcomes, and researchers have considered family variables that mediate or moderate the maternal illness–child outcome relationship. Through reliance on a diverse sample (ethnically and racially, as well as geographically), the current study expands prior literature with a focus on parent–child conflict. Specifically, associations between aspects of HIV positive mothers’ illness and mother–child conflict were explored. One goal of the study was to determine if there were direct or indirect associations with aspects of mothers’ HIV and mother–child conflict. HIV-positive mothers (N = 136) provided CD4 count and completed measures assessing their perceived level of physical functioning, depressive symptoms, HIV health-related anxiety, and mother–child conflict with their healthy school-age children. Path analysis considered the pattern of relationships across variables. Results showed maternal vitality and depressive symptoms were directly associated with mother–child conflict. CD4 cell count and health-related anxiety operated indirectly through maternal depressive symptoms. Mediation analyses further assessed the influence of maternal CD4 cell count on mother–child conflict behavior; results indicated an indirect effect was mediated by vitality. HIV health-related anxiety and vitality separately showed indirect effects on mother–child conflict, mediated by maternal depressive symptoms. These findings are the first to focus on mother–child conflict among children affected by maternal HIV and highlight the need for screening and intervention to address depressive symptoms among HIV-positive mothers.


HIV/AIDS Parent–child conflict Depressive symptoms 



Special thanks to Erika Becker, University of California, Los Angeles, and Sae-Jin Kim, Georgia State University, for their assistance on the manuscript.


Research reported in this manuscript was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health by Grant Numbers 5R01MH094148 (PI: Marya T. Schulte) and 5R01MH094233 (PI: Lisa P. Armistead). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.California State UniversityFullertonUSA
  3. 3.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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